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" … But Don't Stay That Way"

At Gateway, we use this phrase a lot: “Come as you are, but don’t stay that way.”

Whether you have walked with God in an intimate relationship for years or whether you aren’t sure if you believe in God (or anywhere in between), this is a community where we can be honest about our struggles and doubts.

In the midst of authentic community, we can experience genuine change in our lives!

This is a community where you can belong – no matter where you are spiritually. This is also a community that can help you become who you were created to be!

The two most common obstacles include:

  1. We don’t believe that we need to change.
  2. We don’t believe that we can change.

We need to change our wrong assumptions. We need to believe that we need to change and that we can change.

In the Scriptures there is a story in the life of Israel where the world they knew was falling apart. Chaos and destruction had become the norm, but the prophet Ezekiel promised that there was a way out – a path of hope. Ezekiel challenged his people to align their behavior with God’s ways in order to experience restoration and healing.           

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head.’ “Ezekiel 33:1-4

First, we need to listen to the watchmen in your life.

If we are tired of where we are now, are we willing to make different choices? What sacrifices do you need to make to become who were meant to be?

For some of us, our spiritual weakness is faithfulness. We feel like we just don’t have time, or don’t really need to have a plan for spiritual growth.

When we come up with a plan and we are faithful with that plan, we will be exercising muscles our society doesn’t usually emphasize – the muscle of sacrifice. We have to learn to say ‘no’ to some things we’ve been saying “yes” to. Sacrifices are necessary when it comes to time management or calorie management or money management like we talked about during the Recovery Road series.

Second, we need to care enough to be a watchman in the lives of others.

Do you care enough about the people around you to be honest with them? Ezekiel could have just let everyone believe the good news promised by the false prophets, but he didn’t. He cared more for the people than himself.

Do you care enough about the people around you to have hard conversations?

The wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy. (Prov. 27:6)

A loving community allows people to come as they are and cares enough to help people not stay that way.

We can all be watchmen.

A watchman would sound the trumpet when there was danger, but he would also sound the trumpet to announce the arrival of the king. Are we willing to warn others when we see they are going the wrong direction? Are we willing to point people towards God?

Third, the way out of their current situation began with taking personal responsibility.

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. – Ezekiel 34:1-5

Some of you are thinking – yeah! The shepherds in my life have not been there for me!

Have you ever considered that there are people looking to you to be their shepherd?

When Jesus says to Peter, “If you love me, go feed my sheep,” why do we always see ourselves as the sheep? Why don’t we see ourselves as Peter?

There comes a time in our lives (and it is sooner than we think), that we need to learn to feed ourselves.

Fourth, trust God.

The great news is we are not alone in this. God is here for us.

God promises you a better future with Him than you’ve experienced without Him. This doesn’t mean you won’t suffer or face challenges. I promise that you will. The difference is that you will have His help and the help of others to experience a new life – a life beyond what you could have ever imagined.

Listen to Ezekiel’s promise of hope as he shares this message from God to His people:

“‘I will make a covenant of peace with them I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. The people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and that they are my people, declares the Sovereign LORD. You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD.’” Ezekiel 34:25-31

The war over your future is not over. You may have lost some battles, but there is hope! You and I can take personal responsibility for our future, and we are not alone. God is here to help us.

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ebryant@churchleaders.com'
Dr. Eric Michael Bryant serves with Gateway Church in Austin as the team leader for Central and South Austin and as part of the teaching team. Eric previously served at Mosaic in Los Angeles and his books include Not Like Me: A Field Guide to a Influencing a Diverse World and A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be. Eric coaches church planters and campus pastors, teaches on Post Christian Ministry, and leads a cohort for a Doctorate of Ministry in Missional Effectiveness through Bethel Seminary where he earned his Doctorate of Ministry in Entrepreneurial Leadership.